There is no doubt that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been tarnished by the scandalous revelations regarding her tenure at the State Department that have dominated the headlines in recent weeks. While she remains a formidable candidate ahead of 2016, some have begun to question whether she can remain the prohibitive favorite to succeed President Barack Obama when a Republican challenger attains her level of name recognition. In public, Democrats may feign bravado about Clinton’s inevitability. In private, though, many would probably concede that they are nervous about what the future might hold for Clinton, 2016.
It was amid this air of tension that progressive icon Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took what her aides contend was a routine meeting with a group of her progressive supporters. But this April 22 meeting wasn’t routine at all. Some of those with whom Warren and her staffers sat down included three individuals behind the “Draft Warren” movement, an organization that hopes to compel the Bay State senator to challenge Clinton in the 2016 primary.
Politico revealed the details of this meeting in a recent report:
In an hourlong meeting with her staff and a 30-minute meeting with Warren, the group of about a half-dozen top progressive activists — including three who were active in the “Draft Warren” movement — did not discuss the draft campaign. Instead, the conversation focused on issues of social and racial justice. They highlighted specific issues the senator can use to influence the presidential debate in 2016 and, they hope, push Hillary Clinton to the left on issues including police brutality, immigration reform, the privatization of prisons, and reducing naturalization fees to promote naturalization, among other issues.
The meeting’s purpose was to see “how Elizabeth Warren, with her platform, could work with us to move a progressive vision for the country and really engage with communities of color,” said Jonathan Westin, director of New York Communities for Change, who attended. “That goes hand in hand with what she’s already doing.” Warren is addressing problems that are “part and parcel of what we believe is wrong with this country,” he said.
According to Politico, the sweet, naïve staffers toiling away on Team Warren weren’t even aware that they were speaking with “Draft Warren” organizers until Politico informed them of that fact. And if you believe that, I’ve got a progressive agenda to sell you.
There are some, like The Atlantic columnist David Frum, who truly believe that Elizabeth Warren won’t let her moment pass by as Chris Christie did in 2012. And the senator may still lunge at Clinton, but there are plenty of reasons to believe she will stay her blade. For all the clamor in the press demanding a competitive primary, the rest of the Democratic Party is perfectly content with a coronation.
According to the results of a New York Times/CBS News poll, Clinton is as popular among Democrats as ever. Four out of five Democrats think she is trustworthy, 52 percent of prospective Democratic primary voters had heard absolutely nothing about the Clinton Foundation, and only 10 percent are aware of the Foundation’s shady fundraising practices and its violation of an ethics agreement with the Obama administration signed by White House advisor Valerie Jarrett. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this week revealed that 56 percent of Democratic voters remain unconcerned about the lack of a serious challenger to Clinton’s dominance.
It makes you wonder whether this truly is Warren’s moment. If it is, Democrats aren’t nearly as Ready for Warren as are the liberals who populate the nation’s airwaves and fill space in its opinion pages. Even if Warren was aware of the affiliations of those with whom she was meeting, it is unlikely that she was testing the waters for a presidential bid. A careerist and a devoted ideologue, Warren would not want to blunt her influence by mounting a losing primary bid against her party’s most dominant figure. For the junior senator from Massachusetts, there is much more to lose than there is to gain in a presidential run in 2016.